Gorilla Glass vs Sapphire: Corning challenges strength claims of alternative phone cover

by: David GonzalesMay 8, 2013

Sapphire screens
Making sure that your mobile device is well-protected — whether it is against excess data charges or cellphone theft — is of utmost importance these days. Protection against scratches to the screen in particular is one of the most pressing issues for smartphone and tablet owners, and an entire industry is now dedicated to serving this very important need. Currently, Corning leads the industry with its world-famous Gorilla Glass screens. But makers of sapphire screens — a promising alternative — might soon rise to dethrone it. Are they ready for the challenge?

As it turns out, Corning is not only ready to face the oncoming sapphire-gilded wave of the future, but it is also prepared to shoot down claims that sapphire could someday replace its Gorilla Glass screens. It recently ran tests of its toughest Gorilla Glass 3 material and compared it with its own lab-grown sapphire sheets. In the end, it concluded that sapphire is just a little more scratch-resistant but still just as prone to damage and breaking.

In a statement that was first released to CNET, Corning’s senior vice president and operations chief of staff Jeff Evenson said that samples of their in-house and lab-grown sapphire could not best Corning’s Gorilla Glass 3 in the classic tumble test, where devices are spun for 45 minutes to see how it fares against scratches. He also called sapphire “brittle,” and noted that it could be dangerous to users if handled right after breaking. Corning and Evenson are just not very big fans of sapphire, apparently.

In other words, what Corning is saying is that sapphire may not be the best material to use for next-generation smartphone displays, which are only bound to get bigger and more feature-rich as technology progresses. Also, if you’re thinking of potential sources of workable sapphire display covers in the future, you can count them out. Corning says that it doesn’t plan on using sapphire alternatives in lieu of Gorilla Glass any time soon.

It’s important that you choose a phone or a tablet that you know won’t break very easily after being knocked around and scratched a few times. But it’s also important to remember that pretty much anything will break if the drop-off point is high enough, or if the force of impact is strong enough. Perhaps the best piece of advice you can take from all of this is just don’t ever, ever drop your tablet or phone.

  • waldo

    Gorilla Glass will become the past.
    Future will be ruled by flexible display, or holographic one.

    • Nicktrance

      Flexible displays will tend to scratch more easily since they must be softer in order to allow the material to elastically deform without shattering. At the end of the day, no matter how much technology goes into these materials they are still governed by basic material science laws.

      • Evan Stoumbaugh

        Which is why it makes sense to have a ductile screen in combination with a screen protector!

        • Nicktrance

          The screen protector would either have to be brittle or changed every week :P.

  • gbiug

    “Perhaps the best piece of advice you can take from all of this is just don’t ever, ever drop your tablet or phone.”

    That is the best advice, and it’s really not that hard to follow.

  • IncCo

    And Im sure that the makers of gorilla glass are totally unbiased… /s

  • AntWeiner4MajorOfCharleston

    Sapphire is more expensive so it will be like buying a gold watch versus a silver watch. A prestige factor.

  • Holoo zc

    See the Corning has worry about the future that dominated by sapphire like glasses. Gorilla glasses are not more than ordinary window glasses in order to scratchabilty. Everybody has experienced it.